Simon and Clayton then presented to each of three student leaders—Will Pemberton ’20, president of the Class of 2020; Julia Pardee ’21, president of the undergraduate Student Senate; and Eugene Rohrer ’22G, president of the Graduate Student Senate—with a walking stick and a medallion. The walking stick, an object in which Packer took great pride, “was a sign of maturity, responsibility and wisdom,” said Clayton.
Pemberton, Pardee and Rohrer spoke of their leadership experiences at Lehigh.
Pemberton, who is pursuing a finance major and a minor in political science and serves as chair of the Lehigh Minority Business Alliance, described arriving at Lehigh from Chicago, the first in his family to attend college.
Being elected class president a few weeks later, he said, “solidified a platform for me to engage in meaningful relationships with the members of my class and the members of the Lehigh community. Looking back on my Lehigh experience, I value the commitments I made to this community that allowed me to contribute to conversations and subsequent action to effect lasting change...I stand before you as a witness to a Lehigh with a growing human footprint that reflects a commitment to ensuring those with whom we congregate are different, and provides a diversity of thought and experience, along the lines of culture, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status and gender. A Lehigh with a growing physical footprint that will ensure the members of our community from all walks of life have the invaluable resources at their disposal to pursue endeavors, in and outside of the classroom, that embody their passion to solve the world's most pressing issues alongside their peers.”
Pardee, who is pursuing a marketing and business information systems major with a minor in real estate, noted her eight years of participation in student government and how, over time, her “impression of an effective leader has changed drastically.”
“I always knew a leader is a force to be reckoned with, someone who evokes passion and motivates their team. On the surface, a compelling leader is organized, strategic and productive. But really, effective leadership is about the people you lead,” she said. “Before you can ever take a risk and go beyond the conventional limits, you need to have people who you can rely on, people who will take risks with you. And most importantly, people who are willing to fail with you. Lehigh is full of these people, and they continuously amaze me every day I wake up and walk across this campus. We are all so fortunate to be part of such a dynamic community, and as leaders, it is our job to leverage these differences and push our peers to do their best.”
Rohrer, who is in his third year of graduate studies in the psychology department, spoke of the leadership of the “inspiring individuals” he’s encountered in the graduate community.
“All of these individuals are willing and eager to serve as advocates for the graduate student body. This desire to serve exists in all the leaders in the graduate community. They are the ones willing to add to their already busy schedules and work on behalf of their peers to make sure that all graduate students have the resources they need to be able to do their best work here at Lehigh,” he said. “Graduate student leaders are those who are willing to take the additional responsibility of serving and advocating. But why? What makes graduate student leaders want to serve their community? From my experience working with the Graduate Student Senate, it's become clear to me that it's a strong sense of empathy and compassion.”
The program concluded with the unveiling of the senior class numbers in front of the Clayton University Center at Packer Hall. The evening continued with a Battle of the Bands and other student performances.